The worst insult that can now be hurled at anyone in Brexit Britain is the shocking assertion that they are a member of the “liberal elite”.
Well let me raise my “liberal elitist” hand to try to explain why we are not the enemy within, but the people politely, entirely Britishly, trying to head off a catastrophe.
OK before you reach for your Bremoaner and Bremaniac hashtags, your obsessive/anti-democratic/bad losers slurs and your troll hats, let me explain. Here’s the simple analogy.
A coachload of people is driving headlong towards a broken bridge whose entire centre section has fallen away in the dark, into a deep ravine.
We are the people trying to flag the coach down, ‘tis all.
The people on board may have opted to go on the journey, but the tour operators lied about the weather and more to the point, no one told them the bridge was down. They are hurtling towards the void, unaware, unafraid but basically stuffed.
So as the #Brewarners, we find ourselves sneered at, despised, “damned”*, feared. “Look at those crazy, dangerous, treacherous, arrogant people waving handkerchiefs at us. Put your foot on the pedal, driver.”
But the biggest untold tragedy of all is that if hard Brexit happens, the impact will not be on the Goves and the Johnsons, the Farages and the Mays, or probably anyone else in the political classes.
The upper classes – Britain’s true elite – will have ways to avoid the harshest impacts of Brexit and will have resources to see them through. The middle classes will also be cushioned to a certain extent, with their professional skills giving them options for emigrating, self-employment and adjusting lifestyle choices.
Even us “liberal elitists” will probably conjure up creative solutions over our organic muesli and fairtrade coffee.
No, the supreme irony of all this is that the worst impact will be on the socio-economic groups who were most likely to vote to leave – the old, the least qualified and the lowest earners.
No one told them they were the crash dummies on the coach. They will be the first to be hit by increasing food prices (coming soon to a supermarket near you), by cuts in the tax take which will feed through into increased pressure on social care and welfare budgets – already under attack by this government – and I would suspect by a likely higher rate of early job losses among unskilled workers.
Oh, and the old people needing care who may find a shortage of migrant workers cheerfully filling low-paid, onerous shifts.
So for now the coach speeds on with Theresa May gripping the wheel and various factions on board shouting at her to speed up or slow down.
I and an increasing number of others are shouting at her to stop. (And here are 10 reasons why I don’t believe this is undemocratic).
If the pound could talk, it would be screaming its own warning. In its own way, it’s certainly issuing a loud cry for help on the world currency markets. Mark Carney, the closest we have to a voice of reason, is talking sense from the helm of the Bank of England but even his position is being attacked. Twitter suggests he may even quit in the face of political sniping at his independent decision-making, removing a key stabilising influence.
The impending coach crash is why I’m not ashamed to believe that the results of the referendum – which was, after all, only advisory – should never be enacted.
It’s why I believe Article 50 should not be triggered, and certainly not by a Lone Ranger of a Prime Minister who seems to have interpreted a single-question referendum as a mandate for all sorts of things. In other countries we’d characterise it as a power grab. In the UK it’s portrayed as strong leadership.
It’s why I – with millions of others who voted Remain and Leave – will continue trying to flag that coach down until it tips into the precipice. We owe it to them, to ourselves and to the nation we love to try to stop it happening.
And rest assured that on that day we won’t peer over and gloat. We’ll be down there trying to pull the poor sodding victims from the wreckage.
Damned we may be, but we owe it to our nation not to go quietly.
*Being damned by the Daily Mail is a badge of honour I shall wear with pride.